The Usual Suspects
In the 1930s when many European countries were rapidly growing fascist parties, Pelham Wodehouse usefully caricatured Mosley's home-grown Supermen; Roderick Spode and his Blackshorts. After that tiny seed was planted in the national consciousness, the English could never really quite take domestic fascism seriously. When war started, the movement fizzled out. There were no imprisoned martyrs, no concentration camps full of Blackshirts. Mosley himself was not interned until 1940, and released in 1943. Ridicule is a powerful weapon.
I wonder how different things would have been had we adopted the European solutions of internment and prosecution? Would it have strengthened the fascists, polarised our society?
I ask because Germany is considering outlawing the NPD, the fascist party that regularly gains up tp 9% of the popular vote in parts of Germany. EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini (who, under the proposed constitution, will be our Justice Minister's boss) has commented that five EU states face serious problems from the far-right; Germany, France, Italy, Denmark and Belgium. A new Euro-law has been hinted at. Ah. The usual suspects. All had a history of fascist parties in the 1930s that briefly enjoyed a few days in the sunshine - in the case of France, Denmark and Belgium as collaborators. Many of whom were later shot.
The EU has already signed the UK up to a law that makes incitement to racism and xenophobia a crime punishable by up to three years in prison. It's not a law we have any great need for in the UK.
If Mr Frattini has his way, the EU could well see a law that outlaws the BNP. I can think of no other measure that would give this little fringe party the respectability it desperately seeks.